Archive for January, 2011

My first steps in adobe Photoshop! Exciting!

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Koi Sushi Lounge Tamarindo

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Koi Sushi is situated on the main road of Tamarindo, on the third floor of a fairly new building. The entrance is a little bit awkward but the restaurant’s décor is stylish and comfy. Do not choose a seat near the window as you will have no view and extremely bright lights in your eyes.

On Mondays and Thursdays there is a special “all you can eat sushi” for $20 per person. Therefore, we went to try it out. Of course, the selection of rolls was limited but it still consisted of crab, veggie, tuna and tuna tempura rolls. You can simply ask for a plate and they place all the different sushi rolls on it or you can specify the rolls you want.

There is also a special “all you can eat sushi + alcohol drinks” for $25, including vodka, rum and other house drinks together with soft drinks if you would like. It works out well if you prefer to have a couple of drinks as one drink or cocktail is about $6 anyway.

I liked the place very much, efficient staff, quality sushi and an enjoyable atmosphere. Although there is one annoying thing in Costa Rica. Some restaurants, including Koi Sushi, in their menu do not include the 13% tax which together with a mandatory 10% service charge comes up to a quite different amount than expected. So your $40 meal for two comes to $50 before drinks  :).

Kayak Estuary tour, Tamarindo

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

We purchased a kayak tour for $40 per person agreeing on having only one kayak for two people. We went up and down the estuary in two hours at the most. I guess having someone who knows the area and actually how to paddle made us feel safe as it was our first time ever. Looking back I think there was no need for anyone to be there at all and it would be better to simply rent a kayak ourselves ($23/ 2 hour rent for 2 people).

The scenery was not picturesque or exciting: we saw a couple of birds and a few times small fish jumped above the water. It was still fascinating to look around at the jungle and paddle in sync. We both though got tired half way through and decided to take turns and that worked out pretty well.

Next step is to go to “big water” and see how it goes in the ocean.

Tour to Rincon de la Vieja

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

The tour of the volcano Rincon de la Vieja which we decided to book at the local agency included plenty of activities all in one day: zip lining, horse-riding, tubing, hot springs and mud bathing.

Together with transportation and a lunch buffet the cost of the tour was $100 per person and optionally $40 for the photo CD of zip-lining and tubing only.

We were picked up at 6:30 in the morning and by 8 am were already near the volcano. The first activity was the zip-lining. Despite the fact that I was very scared zip-lining appeared to be the least interesting part of the day. There were 23 platforms which we managed to go through in about two hours, most of the time waiting. It seems that there were not enough staff members to make zip-lining smooth and fast. For those who like safety, it was probably the safest activity ever. You are always connected to a wire that won’t let you fall (even of you so desire).

The second part was the tubing and it was considerably more dangerous but it was also so much fun. Everyone had his own tube, sat in the middle of it going through rough mountain water slopes full of stones. Eight miles down the river was amazing. I would not mind to do it again and again.

Later was a lunch buffet which consisted of hot plates, salad bar, juice bar, deserts and fruit. It was delicious for hungry tourists like us and definitely worthwhile.

The horseback-riding was also fun, but also painful. Trying not to jump up and down on a horse is quite a challenge which I unfortunately failed.  I have never done it before so I do have plenty of bruises now on a sensitive part of my body. Still I was amazed by my horse Piojo, he was so patient with me.

After such an active day we all deserved a little bit of a rest and relaxation. Therefore, the next stop was the hot springs. We all went to sauna to warm up :) and continued with putting some mud (which is boiling naturally right in front of you) on each other’s bodies. We let the mud get dry and then took a shower and went to relax in the hot springs. Actually some springs were so hot that I don’t know if anyone is ever using them.

6pm, we are finally ready to go back to Tamarindo…

Learning Spanish Week 2

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

The second week of studying Spanish went through mostly learning and remembering Spanish verbs: regular verbs in present, regular verbs in past, irregular verbs in the present. Ouch!

Special attention was dedicated to the verb “gusta(n)”. We also learned a “simple future”, an equivalent in English would be “I am going to”. We went through extensive vocabulary as well: useful words on the road, in the classroom, on the beach, in the restaurant.

I fear the biggest problem is that most Spanish speaking individuals speak so fast it is almost impossible to identify the words.

Pizzeria La Baula, Tamarindo

Friday, January 21st, 2011

starstarstarstarstar

Recommended by a local (tica) as the best pizza in Tamarindo, which is conveniently situated just a hundred meters away from our apartment, it was a must go and try. The pizza we ordered was crunchy, thin and tasty. If you are really hungry you might be able to have a pizza for yourself but we decided to split one and ordered a focaccia as well. The pizza costs around $8-$10, the cocktails are around $6. Apart from the lovely pizza experience, we also enjoyed the atmosphere.  The place can easily accommodate large parties too. It also seems to be great for families and for children who have a well-kept garden to run and play in.

The owner of the restaurant is surprise-surprise Italian, from Milan, who decided that it is too cold where he is from and five years ago moved to Costa Rica and opened a café. Nicely designed, this place seems to be one of the favorites in Tamarindo. So, we will be back…

 

Mosquitoes in Tamarindo

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

I was honestly surprised to find out that even in the dry season there are plenty of mosquitoes in Costa Rica. I get on average three bites a day both from outside of the apartment and inside. For some bizarre reason mosquitoes prefer to bite the feet. In the end we decided to buy a spray, and to spray ourselves at least for the afternoon and evening time. So far, it kind of works but the results are not very clear as we are still getting bites.

Eh, we should just give up and suffer. If there are mosquitoes in Tamarindo in this weather I am scared to think what they are like during the raining season.

Learning Spanish Week 1

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

This has been the first week of learning Spanish. The results are quite optimistic. At least if we are lost somewhere we are able to ask for directions or for a glass of water. There were five lessons, two hours each. Firstly, we learned all the numbers up to million, though it is still great fun to remember all of them. We also learned how to ask what time is it now and the possible answers. There were obviously a lot of new words to learn, last week we learned the vocabulary about family, body parts, food, days of week, months and colours as well as greetings and simply asking “How are you?”

The most important theme was around the verb “to be”. Apparently, there are five different verbs in Spanish for the verb “to be”: Ser, Estar, Tener, Hacer and Haber. All of them are used in different situations and unfortunately they change depending on the pronoun.

Fiesta in Santa Cruz and transport experience in Costa Rica

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

We found out that there was a fiesta weekend going to happen in a town called Santa Cruz (population about 50 000 people) about thirty kilometers away from Tamarindo. We investigated all the possibilities to get there: rent a car (around $30 a day + insurance), taxi (about 30 one way), local bus (650 colones = $1.2 one way) and even a motorcycle ($60 a day). We decided to rent a car and we found that the cheapest option was provided by Economy Rent a Car and we booked a vehicle a couple of days in advance.

When my boyfriend went to get a car I was surprised to see him come back empty handed. Apparently, there is Pura Vida in Costa Rica: “I am sorry! We have no cars”. No reason even to ask why no one tried to contact us. Pura Vida, Pure Life. Here you should stay calm and face your fate. No stress, no hassle, time is not important.

Apart from the adventure with renting a car, the trip to Santa Cruz was delightful. Negotiated a taxi fare to $25, half an hour later we were already in the town of Saint Cross. There was no need to hide a camera, everyone knew we are tourists anyway just by the colour of our skin. So we didn’t.

Ice-cream, coconut with a straw, churros (long sticks of something sweet), corn, sausage kebab were our snacks that afternoon. We decided not to visit the rodeo: it seemed cruel to pay $16 for sitting under the burning sun. Therefore, we enjoyed the atmosphere of the holiday: as the day progressed  to the evening there were more and more people drinking, singing and of course dancing. I may have expected that, but still should say that Latin-Americans (can I say costa ricans even though they are in Central America?) know how to party and they know how to dance.

We also found out that they like fireworks too. Amazing fireworks for such a small town and the population in general.

The trip home was another adventure. Local buses.  In our poor Spanish (one week of practice, can’t expect more) we found out at what time the bus to Tamarindo is and even how much it costs. Although, waiting for a bus was something special. Even in Ukraine people do not queue for buses LIKE THAT. There was a bus to Liberia (another small town), there were many people waiting, but the despair to get on the bus was stunning. The bus regulator had to stand himself in the front doors, saying that no one is getting on until a disabled person and a couple of parents with small children, who were pushed away from the queue momentarily, were on the bus. It took another five minutes of people arguing until someone was finally let in when even the bus regulator gave up.

Leatherback Turtle nesting tour in Tamarindo

Friday, January 14th, 2011

We booked a leatherback turtles nesting tour in Tamarindo for $20 (plus 3$ if transport was necessary). You also have to pay  an extra $10 per person on  the tour if you see a turtle. They call it a park fee.

Let me start from the most important thing, namely the population of these turtles is in danger and continues to fall. If 20 years ago more than 150 leatherback turtles could be seen  nesting on Playa Grande near Tamarindo, than now the figure is around only 30 specimans. The main reasons are fishing nets, pollution and generally human beings. People used to simply take all the turtle eggs and eat them. The plastic bags in the ocean are eaten by the turtles which take them to be jelly fish and then die from poisoning.

There are a number of rangers and volunteers who come each year to help to raise the population. Although the fact is that only one turtle among 1000 eggs becomes an adult.

Tourists are also dangerous for the turtles. Despite the fact that turtles are in a condition of trance when nesting, they still can feel the vibration of people walking and see  people in front of them. Therefore, you are only allowed to stay out of the eyesight of the turtles.  This is not bad as the most interesting part is happening at the back. Camera flash-light disturbs the turtles, so no cameras at all are allowed now on the tour. Strangely enough, there were two people in our group who didn’t know about this rule and refused to have a tour without taking pictures, so they were refunded.

The tour starts with information about the turtles, rules and then continues with a small boat ride which takes you to the Playa Grande. Then there is a ten minute walk to a “parking point” where we are supposed to wait for a sign from a ranger that there is a turtle. Ok, that part of the “tour” was torturous. Four hours on the beach, looking at the stars and trying not to fall asleep. I regret for not taking a towel as many people simply slept on the beach!!!

I should mention that four hours is the maximum waiting time, if there is no turtle than you will be rebooked for another day. No refunds.

We were lucky (I could not face another night ) as a turtle finally came. One meter long, she was digging a hole with her back flippers?? and later put around sixty eggs in it. I was impressed by the speed of the turtle. Who says that turtles are slow should try to dig a hole and place there sixty eggs in thirty minutes!

So we were rewarded for our patience and saw the whole process.

It was the twenty eighth  turtle which came this season :).